Known to the locals (and the tourism promoters) as the "Oasis on the Tropic of Cancer", Dinghu Shan is rife with tropical vegetation and clean, freshly oxygenized air. Several scenic areas can be found in the Dinghu Shan area, among which Tianhu and Yunxi Scenic Areas get the lion's share of tourists. However, every year a steady but small stream of more adventurous travellers choose to hike into the more mysterious jungles surrounding Dinghu Shan. So follow in their footsteps on these three recommended trails and see what you've been missing!
1) Primitive Valley Rainforest Experience
From the main ticket window, take the sightseeing bus down to Baoding Yuan (宝鼎园) and walk about 10 minutes to Feiqian Bridge (飞堑桥) and Lingxu Bridge (凌虚桥); this is the starting point of the trail they call the "Primitive Valley Rainforest Experience" (原始沟谷雨林体验). Make your way to Tingtao Pavilion (听涛亭) where you can stop and listen to the relaxing sounds of the forest. Follow the path to Xiangshui Pond (响水潭) and its thunderous waterfall, then on to Yulong Pool (浴龙池) where you can stop and soak your feet before rounding out your trek at Qingyun Temple (庆云寺) via Rongrui Stele Pavilion (荣睿碑亭). The trail takes about three hours so pack some snacks.
2) Butterfly Valley Adventure
The "Butterfly Valley Adventure" (蝴蝶谷探险) trail, inhabited by as many as 117 species of butterfly, covers about 2.5 km and will probably take you about an hour to complete. Take a raft from Tianhu Scenic Area (天湖景区) to the Butterfly Park (蝴蝶园), then take a walk through the forest for another dose of nature.
3) Mysterious Tianhu Lake Adventure
After passing the butterfly park, you should see a sign around the corner to your left warning tourists not to enter ("游客止步"); this is the start of the "Mysterious Tianhu Lake Adventure" trail. Follow the road around Dinghu Shan, moving upwards, and you should pass an electrical station. Walk up from here past 600 m of canals to get a rare view of Tianhu Lake not available to most tourists.
A Word of WarningView In Map
The "adventure" trail described above is not officially open to the public and you must apply to park administration before you enter. To do so, visit the office of the Chinese Academy of Sciences South China Botanical Gardens Affiliated Arboretum (中科院华南植物园下属机构树木园办公室) and fill out an application for a "scientific observation permit" (科普考察的证明) for 50 RMB, limited to 1,000 people per day. Be advised that while you can always apply, there may be times when you won't be able to enter. Though open to "scientific observers" from April to September, after the National Day holiday in October the path will be closed until March of the following year.
1) If you've never hiked before, it's best not to hike alone; try to bring a couple of experienced friends along with you. Feel free to bring trail mix and water with you, though none of these trails are especially long.
2) Don't forget warm clothing; even in summer the mountainous areas around Dinghu Lake can get a little chilly.
3) Bug spray is highly recommended, as is a first-aid kit in case you slip and fall along the trail.
4) Only you can prevent forest fires; don't smoke along the trail. Don't be a litter bug either; please keep your trash with you in bags until you reach a suitable receptacle.
Add: Kengkou Township, Shangshan Lu, Dinghu District, Zhaoqing
Price: 60 RMB (park admission), 25 RMB (boat to Butterfly Valley), 20 RMB (sightseeing bus)
Tel: 758 2621 332 (information), 758 2262 296 (complaints)
Opening hours: 8:00-19:00
Lodging: Zhaoqing Dinghu Shan International Youth Hostel (肇庆鼎湖山国际青年旅馆), Tel: 758 2621 668, Price: 40-50 RMB (per bed per night)
Getting there: The Guangdong Provincial Long-Distance Bus Station (广州汽车省站) in Guangzhou has buses leaving every 15 minutes to Zhaoqing (50 RMB). Get off at Zhaoqing Highway 321 Dinghu Shan Memorial Arch (肇庆321国道鼎湖山牌坊) and walk (or taxi, 5 RMB) 2 km to the main gate of Dinghu Shan. Buses to Zhaoqing also leave from Yuexiu South Bus Station (广州越秀南汽车站) and the Fangcun Bus Station (广州芳村汽车站) in Guangzhou. Get off at Kengkou (坑口站) and walk 5 minutes to the main gate of Dinghu Shan.
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Keywords: Dinghu Shan Guangzhou hiking rainforests around Guangzhou nature trails Guangzhou Guangzhou Zhaoqing hiking trail guide
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